Oxford native Sudu Upadhyay graduated from Ole Miss two years ago with a slew of journalism awards under his belt and a job offer at a Memphis news station many would kill for.
I caught up with Upadhyay this week to find out more about his path from Oxford to Memphis. His secret to success? Dream big and work your ass off.
Alex: You graduated only two years ago (December 2016) and now you’re a weekend sports anchor for a news station in a major city. How’d you do it?
Sudu: WMC came to Ole Miss a few times my junior year and one of the times [journalism professor] Deb Wenger was like, “Hey, you have to go to Career Day. WMC’s going to be there and I want them to see your stuff. That’s where we first met.
They immediately saw my reel and were like, “We want you to intern with us,” but I was working for the Ole Miss Spirit at the time. So I told them, “I can’t intern with you in the fall but if you have any job opportunities in the future, let me know.”
I had already decided I was going to graduate a semester early. Being from Oxford, I was ready to go. At that same time, the weekend sports anchor job came open. There was a second Career Day ... and they were like, “Where is he?” And they pretty much found me and looked at my reel and said, “We need you to apply for this job TONIGHT if you’re interested.”
By January of 2017, I was in Memphis.
Alex: When in your life did you know you wanted to go into sports broadcasting?
Sudu: Growing up in Oxford, every little boy wanted to be Eli Manning. That’s who you mimicked when you were on the playground. ... I was never going to play in the NFL. I’m not genetically gifted to be in the NFL. So I think around fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth grade—somewhere in there—I was like, “OK, the next best thing to being an NFL quarterback is to cover the NFL or to cover college football.”
I think by the eighth grade I was already making YouTube videos. I had my own website for a little bit. I got it rollin’ early.
Alex: We all know journalism majors have to get real-world experience in college if they want to get jobs after they graduate, but you seemed to hit the ground running when you got to Ole Miss and didn’t stop. Were you just that motivated to do what you love or was it more about wanting to make sure you could land a job when you graduated?
Sudu: I dream really big. Ever since I was a kid, no matter what I wanted to do I was always like, “I want to be at the top of that.” When I knew I wanted to go into sports broadcasting, it clicked and I knew “the more I do now, the better it’s going to be in the future.” I was all in.
Alex: What’s been your favorite assignment or story to cover since you’ve been in Memphis?
Sudu: The first Grizzlies game I covered, I think it was like my second week here, I got to meet Vince Carter for the very first time in the locker room. I had been working in Ole Miss Athletics in some capacity since high school, so I’d been around coaches and college players. I had started to get to that point where you don’t see them as celebrities because it’s work.
But when I met Vince Carter, I was sitting there with the camera and remember having this—for the first time—like almost fanboying that I was sitting next to Vince Carter in the locker room. This guy had just gotten out of the shower and changed and was like, “All right guys, let’s go.”
Alex: Has Jarvis Greer (WMC-TV’s sports director and longtime sports anchor) given you any advice?
Sudu: He’s very happy all the time, very chill. He pretty much told me my first year there to pick my battles. TV is a changing industry right now and sports isn’t the biggest priority for local television. People watch it more for news and weather. And me being me, I’m always trying to go 110 percent, you know—asking for all these different things—and sometimes I don’t always get what I want. Not to say I’m unhappy but I don’t always get everything that I want.
And I’m the person that’s vocal, asking, “Why don’t we have this? Why aren’t we trying to do this?” And Jarvis is always like, “Look, dude. You’ve got to pick your battles. You can’t just fight every single thing that doesn’t go your way.” I’m going into my third year there and I’m finally starting to understand what he means by that. If you get mad at every little thing, you’re not gonna last.
He also says don’t burn the candle at both ends when I go out and come to work the next day and he can tell that I haven’t had a lot of sleep. (laughs)